December 26, 2010

Top 10 in 2010

Readers choose Maine's biggest newsmakers of the year.

From staff reports

For Maine readers, 2010 was a political year to remember.

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Gov.-elect Paul LePage

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Mainer Seth Wescott won a gold medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in the men's snowboard-cross, coming from behind. It was the second gold for Wescott, who also won in 2006.

Press Herald file photo

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

Readers of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram overwhelmingly selected the victory of Gov.-elect Paul LePage as the top Maine news story of the year.

The next two stories they chose also involved hard-fought races on the November ballot: the Republican Party capturing control of both chambers of the state Legislature, and voters narrowly approving the state's first casino with table games. Two other stories in the top 10 also featured politics on a national and local scale.

But there were also stories of triumph and humanitarian efforts. Readers also recognized a South Portland lawyer who found himself in the national spotlight.

(We calculated the list using a weighted point system. Readers who voted online at pressherald.com were allowed to choose 10 stories and rank them. Stories got 10 points for each first-place vote, nine for a second-place vote, and so forth.)

Enjoy our look back at 2010 in Maine.

1. LePage wins: Waterville mayor Paul LePage, who rode a conservative message to victory in a crowded Republican primary last June, wins election as Maine’s governor by narrowly defeating independent Eliot Cutler in a five-way race.

LePage, 62, ran as a blunt critic of big government and big spending, and was widely expected to ride the national pro-Republican wave into the Blaine House.

He grew up in Lewiston’s “Little Canada,” the second-oldest of 18 children, and left his family at age 11 after being beaten by his alcoholic father. He later went to college and got a master’s degree in business and became general manager of Marden’s Surplus and Salvage.

LePage’s temper and rhetoric got him in some hot water during the campaign. He told voters that as governor he would tell President Obama to “go to hell,” and he blew up at reporters’ questions about homestead tax exemptions on his family’s homes in Maine and Florida. But the dip in his poll numbers was small, and temporary.

2. GOP takes control of House and Senate: Republicans capture a majority in both chambers of the Maine Legislature for the first time since 1974, dislodging Democrats who had controlled the House for 36 years and the Senate since 2002.

The transition positioned the GOP to elect constitutional officers and set the policy agenda.

Republicans ousted 16 incumbent House Democrats and three senators. Many party members credit state party chairman Charlie Webster with engineering the comeback.

3. Oxford County casino: By a margin of some 7,000 votes, Mainers approve building a $165 million resort with gaming tables in Oxford County, the first casino in the state and a boon in the eyes of its supporters to a western Maine region that has suffered greatly from high unemployment.

Opponents try, but eventually fail, to mount a recount effort.

Black Bear Entertainment announces plans to build on a 100-acre lot on Route 26 near Rabbit Valley Road, about 45 miles northwest of Portland.

The project is to be completed over five years, with the first phase involving a 65,000-square-foot casino, restaurant and lounge. Next would come a 200-room hotel, and finally a meeting space for conventions.

Black Bear expects the first phase to be complete by next year, with a grand opening planned for December 2011.

4. Olympian seth Wescott wins gold: Mainer Seth Wescott takes gold at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in the men’s snowboardcross.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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President Obama visited Portland, speaking before more than 2,000 at the Portland Expo a week after he signed health care reform into law.

Press Herald file photo

  


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